The Anti-Secular Nature of Article 30

  • By Adity Sharma
  • April 2014
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Swami  Vivekananda once said: “Education is the manifestation of  perfection already existing in man.” Swamiji traveled the length  and breadth of India to awaken the innate thirst for education that  extended across social boundaries. He understood the poverty India  suffered at the hands of foreign invaders, and boldly strove to  spread the message of knowledge.

So,  it would have made sense for the post-partition political  establishment to administer a system of education that treated all  citizens, regardless of creed, equally. But after partition, a  peculiarity began to take form. The political establishment, a child  of religious imperialism, drafted a Constitution that instead of  creating equality, birthed the most noxious type of legally  sanctioned inequities between different religious groups. This was  rigorously packaged and marketed as secularism.

The  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines secular to mean a “separation of  religion and the affairs of the State.” Oddly enough the political  establishment along with academia in their infinite wisdom still have  not read or cared to read this definition.

There  are several articles in the Indian Constitution that place religious  minorities at an unfair advantage. For the purposes of our  discussion, Article 30, which contains clauses on granting land for  education to religious minorities, is examined. Article 30 (1)  states: “All minorities, whether based on religion or language,  shall have the right to establish and administer educational  institutions of their choice.” Article 30 (1)(A) goes onto ensure  that right by promising minorities a share of property to administer  the institutions.

These  clauses are not only the antithesis of any remote semblance to  secularism, but create a shocking amount of unequal opportunities in  land acquisition for educational institutions. Not only do such  articles in the Indian constitution fail to comport with “fair-play  and substantial justice,” but erode the very heart of India’s  democratic credentials and its professed commitment to secularism.  The clause has the potential of spawning corrupt practices which have  all but choked India’s economic development and social progress.

Several countries  have made efforts to redress wrongs committed in the past. Thus, the  Minority Serving Institution is a program sponsored by the United  States Department of Interior (DOI). These institutions provide  “social and educational” skills to overcome limited economic  opportunity. This State initiative is justifiable when weighed  against the history of how the US Government has treated racial  groups. Blacks were imported from the African continent as slaves who  worked under intolerable conditions on plantations; the Native  Americans were ruthlessly killed, or pushed from their centuries old  dwellings to live on squalid reservations.

On the other hand,  India’s largest religious minority, whose ancestors accepted  conversion as an alternative to death, now basks in wholly undeserved  and unearned privileges, while the Hindu majority is given  step-motherly treatment in its own land. To add insult to grievous  injury, the religious minorities, instead of striving for integration  with the mainstream, have perfected the art of playing victim.

Even if we assume  that religious minorities deserve special laws, is Article 30 really  making a difference? The literacy rate of India’s Muslims continues  to be abysmally low. The literacy figures are consistently low across  districts, especially where Muslims form a majority, and where  Islamic rule has had the most impact. These unsavory facts do not  point to a deficiency in governmental policies and provisions, but to  an ideologically motivated hostility by leaders who have always  preferred Madrasa teaching over secular education.

Article 30 must go;  it is as simple as that. If pampering provisions are in place for any  community, slothfulness is created, and meritocracy is destroyed.  Scholars more qualified than this author have spelled out the  flagrant inequity and discrimination contained within this provision.  The debates have raged both online and offline.

From the time the  Constitution was officially adopted, no political party has come  forth to seriously challenge the very anti-secular character of this  Article. If India truly wants to be secular, such Articles should not  be accommodated. Privileging communities within the nation (the list  of minorities has been steadily expanded) is an egregious insult to  the basic tenets of secularism. Instead, the government should  administer programs that create equal opportunity for all citizens.

As India begins to  question so many holy cows, perhaps the turn of some of these  constitutional provisions that were imposed by a dominant group will  come up for reconsideration.

Sources
1. Article 30 of the Indian Constitution" Ministry of Law and Justice. (1-88).doc‎Cached (accessed February 4, 2014)
2. Secular Definition, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, (accessed February 1, 2014)
3. Minority Serving Institutions, US Department of Interior; (accessed Feb 4, 2014)
4. Chaudhary, Latika and Rubin, Jared, Reading, Writing, and Religion: Institutions and Human Capital Formation (June 1, 2010). Journal of Comparative Economics,

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